There are a wide variety of injuries that can occur in a workplace. An employee can fall off scaffolding, get in a car accident while driving to deliver a shipment, or receive an injury from malfunctioning equipment. Repetitive motion injuries are also a common source of work-related injuries. The most common type of repetitive stress injury is carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the nerves running from the hand to the wrist are compressed through repeated motions, like typing. There are other types of repetitive stress injuries, which could come from repeated bending or repeated use of one body part, such as repeatedly lifting your arms over your head. Like other work-related injuries, an employer can still be liable for repetitive motion injuries.
If your employee has a repetitive motion injury or shows signs of developing the injury, you need to treat the repetitive stress injury just as you would any other injury. The employee needs to seek medical attention. You will need to complete the same paperwork and submit it to your workers’ compensation insurance provider. The employee will be eligible to receive replacement income, payment of medical expenses, and if necessary, reasonable accommodations when the worker is able to come back to work.
One issue that frequently arises with these types of injuries is that the worker was likely typing a lot or during similar repetitive actions in previous employment. Employers will often wonder whether they are obligated to cover the repetitive stress injury if the condition started to develop during prior work. Whether the injury is covered by the workers’ compensation system will be dependent on whether the injury is a pre-existing condition. For example, if the injury was diagnosed and treated before the worker started with your business, it may very well be excluded from coverage under workers’ compensation. However, if the pre-existing condition is one that he or she previously received workers’ compensation benefits for and the condition is aggravated by the work with your business, then the employee may very well be eligible for additional workers’ compensation benefits. The employee will need to get a medical examination to determine whether it is part of a pre-existing condition or a new injury.
We have extensive experience helping our clients understand the workers’ compensation system. Call us today to talk about what we can do to help you.